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10.19.10

Ramifications for Steve Ballmer After Ray Ozzie Metaphorically Falls on His Sword

Posted in Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 5:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Knights on horsebacks

Summary: Everybody around Microsoft’s CEO is abandoning and there is disagreement over what this will do to the company

MR. Ozzie's exit is just the latest among many departures and his exit led to even more speculations about Ballmer’s next move. Ozzie was arguably Microsoft’s #2 man.

We could find/reach no consensus on whether Ozzie’s departure is good news or bad news to Ballmer. Business Week, for instance, says that “Ozzie Microsoft Exit Fuels Concern Over Ballmer Bench”:

The departure of Ray Ozzie as Microsoft Corp.’s chief software architect fueled concern that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer may not be doing enough to nurture would-be successors and executives who can set strategy.

Ozzie, 54, joined the company in 2005 and was later named as one of the two executives who would chart vision as co- Founder Bill Gates stepped away from day-to-day operations.

Microsoft boosters like Tim Anderson wrote about it and so did prominent Microsoft employees like Mini-Microsoft, who wrote: “I feel with Ray Ozzie’s departure that Steve Ballmer has finally asserted his complete control over the company. We’ve had some house cleaning this year, ranging from Mr. Ozzie to Mr. Bach & Mr. Allard to Technical Fellows to continued targeted layoffs. Perhaps this is due to the big, contemplative review Mr. Ballmer had with the Microsoft Board this year. Mr. Ballmer has hit the reset button. Do we have a Hail Mary pass, or is this Ballmer 2.0?

“I feel with Ray Ozzie’s departure that Steve Ballmer has finally asserted his complete control over the company.”
      –Mini-Microsoft
“We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, here’s hoping that the technical Presidents reporting to Mr. Ballmer can take up the custom of intellectual rigor. Because that is one custom we can’t let decline anymore.”

If this is true, then Microsoft will be even more aggressive. Throughout his time at Microsoft, Ozzie hardly ever said anything provocative or controversial at all. Some believed that he would inherit the helm and be somewhat of a peacemaker. Now we know this will never happen.

People have been speculating for a while that Ballmer will be kicked out because he is not popular and even some investors want him out. Will Ozzie’s departure contribute to pressure for Ballmer to stay or to leave? There’s no real agreement on that. Besides, a Microsoft with Ballmer is a bully (which can be bad) and it is also a company with an ever-alienating strategy (which may make it better for Free software because he ruins the company). It’s like having Darl McBride behind SCO’s wheel.

Links 19/10/2010: GNU/Linux in Large Hadron Collider, Edubuntu Promotion

Posted in News Roundup at 2:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • What if We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

      A silly question? Maybe. But the analogy, made by a speaker at the Educause conference here today, reflects a recurring theme at this year’s event: Do our university bureaucracies still make sense in the era of networks?

      In a session called “The University as an Agile Organization,” David J. Staley laid out the findings of a focus group he conducted asking educators what a college would look like if it ran like Wikipedia.

    • ‘How We Collaborate is More Important Than Who Collaborates’ – new post

      So, ‘having a bunch of smart people in a group doesn’t necessarily make the group smart’.

      This is one of the conclusions from new research on collective intelligence by Carnegie Mellon & MIT (full story below). While this seems counter to what we might expect at a superficial level, on reflection it makes perfect sense. Any of us who’ve been in group ideation or creative processes can attest to the fact that sometimes things just seem to click, other times the group or team just never quite gets up to speed, even if all the smart people have been painstakingly fought for, gathered, briefed, fed Haribo & put to work.

    • How Wikipedia works: Webcast with author Joseph Reagle, Thurs. Oct. 21

      We had the chance to learn more about his book and how Wikipedia works in an interview with Reagle last month. We were interested to learn more and thought you would be, too.

    • World of Giving: A Q&A with Jeffrey Inaba
    • Open Data

      • Nottingham University Open Data Masterclass

        Nottingham University is giving masterclasses around the UK for those who want to do something with the government data has become available since the launch of data.gov.uk.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open Access Advantage

        The 25,000 peer-reviewed journals and refereed conference proceedings that exist today publish about 2.5 million articles per year, across all disciplines, languages and nations. No university or research institution anywhere, not even the richest, can afford to subscribe to all or most of the journals that its researchers may need to use.

      • Making ‘E-Textbooks’ Real — and Really Accessible — in Public Schools

        Last year Melanie Manuel, a high school Spanish teacher, decided to reinforce vocabulary by requiring her advanced students to study human rights. She sent them to the Web to analyze the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and asked them to watch films about Latin America with the Declaration in mind. They created an annotated archive of video clips about human rights’ abuses to be used in classrooms around the world.

      • CC and Open Access Week 2010

        This week is the fourth annual Open Access Week, and starting yesterday Oct 18, the official kick-off date, the CC community has been participating in various open access events around the globe. “Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Taking place the same week everywhere, Open Access Week brings together people from all ends of the academic and research communities at various worldwide conferences, workshops, and other events to “continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.” Below is a (not exhaustive) list of what CC jurisdiction leads, open culture and open education advocates, and the Creative Commons staff are doing to inspire open access.

      • Dramatic Growth of Open Access: September 30, 2010

        The growth rate of open access is robust and growing. DOAJ added 312 titles this quarter (more than 3 per day), for a total of 5,452. There are now more than 6,600 journals using OJS. The number of journals fully participating in PMC continues to grow, while the NIH Public Access Policy compliance rate is about 60%, indicating significant progress but still room for improvement. BASE now searches more than 25 million documents. Hindawi’s monthly submissions have grown to over 2,000 this quarter.

Leftovers

  • Evernote Raises $20M In Bid To Become A “Global Platform For Human Memory”
  • BBC fears coalition licence fee raid

    BBC bosses fear that the coalition government is gearing up for a £500m-plus raid on the licence fee, by forcing the broadcaster to meet the full cost of free television licences for the over 75s.

  • ‘Permanent Artificial Respiration’: France Buys Its Citizens 210k News Subs

    France expects to give away another 210,000 free newspaper subscriptions to citizens aged 18-24 over the next year, in a state intervention designed to help save the country’s news media by regaining young readers.

  • Science

    • Objet is Certified

      Objet Geometries, makers of the powerful Alaris, Eden and Connex lines of commercial 3D printers just announced they’ve managed to receive ISO 13485:2003 certification. This certification means Objet is now able to deliver various types of 3D printing equipment into a wide variety of medical roles. We’ve seen Objet dabble in dental before but this certification means they can go much, much farther.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • fight terror, defend freedom

      To the House of Commons last night where I have been invited to join the panel for the launch of the new booklet by Dominic Raab MP — “fight terror, defend freedom” (PDF format). As well as Dominic, we were joined on the panel by David Davis MP, the former Shadow Home Secretary, and our host Alex Deane from Big Brother Watch.

      Dominic’s paper is well worth a read (as indeed is his book, “The Assault on Liberty, What Went Wrong with Rights”). One of his key points is that our justice system is an underused weapon in the fight against terrorism. We should be strengthening our capacity to prosecute terrorists, not least by lifting the ban on using intercept evidence in court.

    • A Defence Review

      The aircraft carriers are important to our ability to support US invasions abroad.They have no other purpose. The big question so far ducked is whether we have abandoned the disastrous “Blair doctrine” of liberal interventionism. or bombing foreigners to make them better people. The unspoken presumption isthat we are still maintaining this option.

  • Finance

    • The Mortgage Fraud Scandal Is The Biggest In Human History

      We have long known that lender fraud was rampant during the real estate boom. The FBI began warning of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud as early as 2004. We know that mortgage originators invented “low doc” and “no doc” loans, encouraged borrowers to take out “liar loans”, and promoted “NINJA loans” (no income, no job, no assets, no problem!). All of these schemes were fraudulent from the get-go.

    • DON’T Let Goldman Be Goldman

      At first glance, I thought the Times piece might be a report on New Age self actualization for investment banks. But the title suggests something more troubling. The whole point of financial reform is that Goldman (and the others) should no longer be permitted to be Goldman. A return to business as usual is the last thing we need.

    • Goldman Pushes Its Image Rehab

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is taking its first steps to change the way it does business after it weathered harsh criticism and paid a $550 million fine tied to its actions before and during the financial crisis.

      The Wall Street firm, which is trying to rehabilitate its public reputation with an ad campaign that, among other things, tries to show how it helps create jobs, is planning to make changes in the way it reports its finances and how it relates to clients, investors and analysts, people involved in the planning say. It has also gone outside the company and hired an executive who has been a vocal critic of Wall Street pay practices and weak corporate governance.

    • From Obama, the Tax Cut Nobody Heard Of

      In a troubling sign for Democrats as they head into the midterm elections, their signature tax cut of the past two years, which decreased income taxes by up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 for married couples, has gone largely unnoticed.

    • Bring Your Questions on the Foreclosure Crisis

      Mr. Lawler is a founder of Lawler Economic & Housing Consulting LLC, which provides data, analysis and forecasts of housing, mortgage, financial and economic trends. His clients include hedge funds and financial firms or fund managers, as well as the mortgage insurance company Fannie Mae. He had previously worked for Fannie Mae for 22 years, first as director of financial economics in 1984, and as a senior vice president from 1989 until he retired from Fannie in January 2006. Before joining Fannie Mae, he worked at Chase Manhattan Bank and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

    • Banks Shared Clients’ Profits, but Not Losses

      JPMorgan Chase & Company has a proposition for the mutual funds and pension funds that oversee many Americans’ savings: Heads, we win together. Tails, you lose — alone.

    • White House Urges Calm on Foreclosures

      Amid a rising uproar over slipshod bank foreclosure practices, members of the Obama administration on Sunday expressed anger about the revelations, but urged caution as multiple investigations into the crisis unfold.

    • Can the Fed still rejuvenate the economy?

      It is widely, though not universally, assumed that the Federal Reserve will soon move to bolster the economy by trying to nudge down long-term interest rates on Treasury bonds, home mortgages and corporate bonds. Just how much rates would decline and how much production and employment would increase are uncertain. What’s clearer is that the move would be something of an act of desperation, reflecting a poverty of good ideas to resuscitate the economy.

    • New Post poll finds negativity toward federal workers

      More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do, and more than a third think they are less qualified than those working in the private sector, according to a Washington Post poll.

    • The White House KNOWS That a Foreclosure Moratorium Will Hurt Bank Profits, the NYT Doesn’t Know What the White House Thinks

      The mind readers at the NYT told readers that:

      “The Obama administration has resisted calls for a more forceful response, worried that added pressure might spook the banks and hobble the broader economy [emphasis added].”

      It is easy to see how a foreclosure moratorium might hurt bank profits. After all, the banks could be forced to follow the same laws on mortgages and property transfers as the rest of us. This would raise their costs and reduce their profits, which is why they had been taking short-cuts instead of following the law.

    • In France, Labor Strikes Head for Showdown

      Flights were canceled, drivers scavenged for fuel and hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Tuesday as protests over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to change France’s pension system mounted in advance of a parliamentary vote.

    • Are there ‘shovel-ready projects?’ An interview with Jared Bernstein.
    • Stiglitz vs. the Fed
    • A Better Way to Fix the Foreclosure Process

      In the 1990s, capitalism was on the march and the United States mortgage market seemed like a model. In much of the world, it seemed miraculous that ordinary Americans could move into a big home by borrowing large sums of money for 30 years. A crucial element in the American system was that lenders could take the homes of delinquent borrowers; it was impossible to imagine a well-functioning mortgage market in places like Russia and Bolivia, without a similar ability to foreclose.

    • “This Is Criminal”: Foreclosure Process “Rife with Fraud”
    • ‘Inside Job’: Rampant Conflicts of Interest, Cronyism Led to 2008 Crisis, Charles Ferguson Says
    • Chinese rate hike jolts markets, dollar buoyed

      The dollar surged and stocks slid after a Chinese interest rate hike Tuesday left investors pondering whether the U.S. and China were looking to ease market tensions ahead of a crucial meeting of finance ministers this weekend.

      Worries that China’s monetary authorities are putting the brakes on an overheating economy also weighed on sentiment and demand for more risky assets – in times of heightened risk aversion, the dollar gains ground through its status as a safe haven currency while stocks retreat.

    • Bank of America posts $7.7B loss on special charge

      Bank of America Corp. said Tuesday it lost $7.65 billion during the third quarter due to a charge related to credit and debit card reform legislation passed over the summer.

      The bank also announced a change in its consumer banking strategy to focus on providing customers with incentives to do more business with the bank instead of generating revenue through penalty fees such as overdraft charges. The bank is already starting to implement some changes, and has cut overdraft fees on small amounts that customers charge to their debit cards.

    • A Hedge Fund Controlled by Women, So It Claimed

      Amid the testosterone-fueled trading floors of Wall Street, Ms. Buchan has not only built a hugely successful hedge fund investment firm but also one that is, on paper, owned and run by women.

      But questions have surfaced about whether her firm, Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company, is now — or ever was — controlled by women at all.

      It turns out that S. Donald Sussman, a hedge fund mogul who has bankrolled some of the biggest (male) names in the business, has quietly stood behind Paamco for years, pocketing much of its profit. A recent court ruling officially put a chunk of Paamco’s parent company in his hands.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Google Book Search will never have an effective competitor

        MIT’s Tech Review reports on a paper in the Stanford Technology Law Review, in which law/economic scholar Eric M. Fraser explains the anticompetitive aspects of the Google Book Search settlement that the Authors Guild has proposed.

      • Want to Change German Copyright Law?

        Of course you do – and here’s your big chance. Dirk Riehle is not only the Professor for Open Source Software at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany orders these things better than we do), but he is also part of a “multilateral commission instituted by the German parliament to discuss and make recommendations on, well, Internet and digital society.”

        Specifically he is looking at revisions to German copyright law, and being an open source-y chap he is soliciting views and ideas from everyone, which is jolly kind of him. He rightly points out that maybe a glance at existing German copyright law would be a good idea before letting rip. The closing date for comments on the blog post is the beginning of next week.

      • Prosecutor Takes Down Torrent Site, Industry Group Sets Terms For Truce

        Following a complaint from a group representing local music and movie companies, prosecutors ordered the takedown of Moldova’s biggest torrent site last week. As the authorities try to work out if any crime has been committed at the 270,000 member TorrentsMD, the entertainment industry group is setting out its terms for a truce with the tracker.

      • How The RIAA Took My Vintage Mustang

        When Shane Comegys was 16 he loved two things: his 1970 Mustang and illegally downloaded music. Given the choice, he’d happily take the car and delete the music, but the RIAA’s lawyers didn’t give him a choice. They took both.

      • Artist Revenue Opportunities Without Playing Live

        In most cases, recorded music has always been somewhat of a promotion for the live show. It’s a little known fact that most musical artists have always made as much as 95% of their income from playing live, if we take publishing out of the equation. Even artists that were selling millions of albums during recorded music’s heyday from the 70’s through the 90’s weren’t making as much on record or CD sales as you might think.

      • 10 Things Bands Can Do to Book More Live Shows
      • Musicians benefit in digital era

        Re: “Modernized copyright law crucial to artists’ success; In digital age, musicians still need to sell music,” by Jeff Rogers, Opinion, Oct. 11.

        As an avid music fan, I read this piece with great interest, but could not disagree more with the author.

        Jeff Rogers claims he wants Colleen Brown to be fairly compensated for her creative expression.

        I would argue she already is. In the age of digital file sharing, artists cannot rely as heavily on album sales as a source of income. To compensate for this, a greater emphasis is placed on live performance.

        Since consumers now have free access to an artist’s work, they will be more inclined to listen to it and if they like it they will attend a live performance. In this sense, the artist’s album is no longer a product, but is instead an advertisement or promotional tool to get people to pay to see a live performance.

      • Fault digital locks

        I wish singer/songwriter Colleen Brown’s career well, but for Jeff Rogers to lay the problem of the decline of music sales at the door of Internet downloading is unfounded.

        A 2007 Industry Canada report “found that music downloads have a positive effect on music purchases among Canadian downloaders, but that there is no effect taken over the entire population aged 15 and over.”

        Other reports conclude there are no negative effects of downloading on the music industry. The music industry is facing stiff competition, particularly video gaming, now overtaking music in terms of sales.

        Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act, is not the answer to declining music sales. Rather, the draconian system of digital locks presently proposed by the legislation is more likely to alienate those who purchase music or any other form of digital media.

      • Copying a Right: Ripping off someone else’s work isn’t always indefensible

        California schoolchildren are obliged to copy ideas, and it was copyright lobbyists who put them up to it.

        Since 2006, the school system of a state dependent on a profitable entertainment industry has made it mandatory for teachers to run their students through a programs like “What’s the Diff?” which has them role-play as different stakeholders in the unauthorized downloading of a movie: actors, directors, producers against a feckless, hard-drive-stuffing computer user.

        The program leads students to pre-determined conclusions: “If you haven’t paid for it, you’ve stolen it,” “Intellectual property is no different than physical property;” for the record, there is no “diff” between digital piracy and shoplifting. The curriculum was developed by the Motion Picture Association of America, which also provided the Boy Scouts in Los Angeles with the guidelines for a Respect Copyright badge.

      • ACTA

        • Bloc MP Seeking Canadian Hearings on ACTA

          The motion will be tabled today and voted on Thursday. Unlike other ACTA countries, which have held meetings with interested parties and politicians since the last round of negotiations, Canadian officials and politicians have remained silent. These hearings offer an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Canadian approach at the ACTA talks.

        • When the Camembert tops democratic governance

          A European Parliament majority accepted a written declaration on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which iterates the calls to European Commissioner Karel de Gucht for more legislative transparency.

Clip of the Day

Geany snippets


Credit: TinyOgg

Human Rights Require Software Freedom

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Woman using computer

Summary: A few takes and clarifications about what Microsoft et al. are attempting to do to NGOs by giving them ‘free’ (gratis) copies of binaries without long-term commitment

Environmentalists and activists are rarely Microsoft-tolerant. To them, Microsoft represents many of the things which they actively work against and over the weekend I received mail from one such group whose entire facilities were possibly being moved to Free software for idealogical reasons. It is necessary for independence, no surveillance, and denial of hypocrisy. It’s not just about cost at all. Philosophical folks can tell apart freedom from free (zero cost).

The New York Times has just published this poorly-researched piece which seems more like Microsoft PR. No wonder mobbyists love this piece. Well, Slashdot too picked this story and posted it under the headline “MS Gives Free Licenses To Oppressed Nonprofits”. Glyn Moody called it a “stunningly naive headline: this is pure self-interest”; he also referenced Marco, who says that software “is like depleted uranium weapons” and he explains why (or what this analogy actually means):

Note to all NGOs: please don’t make a mess with Microsoft donations

[...]

Many non-profit, non government organizations (NGO), including those who try to express dissent in authoritarian regimes, use popular software like Windows or Microsoft Office for their activities without paying for a regular license, because they have no money. Therefore, charging these organizations for software piracy is an effective way to shut down disturbing voices. They are violating laws, after all. According to the New York Times, “Microsoft is vastly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent.” This is good, but there are a few things that any NGO should know about plans like this.

[...]

And if you are thinking “My NGO can’t switch to OpenOffice because it messes up the formatting of lots of MS Office documents that we already have, or can’t run Office macros”… well, you’ve just proved my point. Your NGO is an Office drug addict. The very least it should do in order to fulfil its own mission is to not spread that disease to others. Please.

Many activists use GNU/Linux for other reasons and cost is rarely one of the stated factors as gratis proprietary software is made available to them routinely. As Robert Pogson puts it:

If I were a non-profit/advocacy/freedom-promoting organization, I would be running GNU/Linux just for the cost-savings.

See the good comments there, too.

“If they’re going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else”

Jeff Raikes, now heading the Gates Foundation

“Why Don’t They [Microsoft] Just *Pay* People to Use Their Mobiles?”

Posted in Finance, Hardware, Marketing, Microsoft, Windows at 8:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coins pile

Summary: Just paying people to use Vista Phone 7 [sic] is the sarcastic advice Glyn Moody gives to Microsoft; Microsoft marketing expenses now exceed a billion dollars

MICROSOFT LOSES about 3 billion dollars online every year. It’s not hard to see why. Microsoft just cannot compete against Google (not fairly anyway) and sometimes it even bribes people to use Bong [sic], its so-called ‘decsion’ or ‘search’ engine. What Microsoft does on the Web is not sustainable as it burns a lot of the income which comes from cash cows. The same goes for Microsoft’s failed efforts at entering the mobile market.

Vista Phone 7 [sic] marketing sure seems like another $400 million down the drain. The product itself is too primitive to succeed and excessive marketing is not enough to compensate for it. A spendings spree may only work when the product being marketed has at least something going for it, or at least if it enjoys inertia from third-party developers. Microsoft’s product has neither.

Murdoch’s chaps give this somewhat detailed break-down of where Microsoft’s money gets wasted:

Redmond’s plans for its phone rollout will reportedly involve more than $400 million in marketing efforts. And Kinect, a motion-sensor add-on for the Xbox, will be a half-billion-dollar project, says the New York Post’s Claire Atkinson. Here’s where some of that money will get spent:

* Burger King promotion
* Pepsi promotion
* Kellogg’s cereal promotion
* YouTube homepage takeover
* Ad buys on Nickelodeon, Disney sites
* Ad buys on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and Fox’s “Glee”
* Ad buys on Time Inc.’s People and InStyle
* Times Square event

The “YouTube homepage takeover” is funny. Microsoft paying Google?

Glyn Moody says, “why don’t they just *pay* people to use their mobiles?”

Notice that KINect too has a lot of fake coverage going for it. We wrote about it in posts such as (from old to new):

The shameless PR behind KINect carries on this month. We found some very absurd headlines that make no sense, like the “selling out” of preorders (finite quantities of something which is not even released yet — an absurdity which we wrote about on Sunday in IRC). “Microsoft Reportedly Spending Half a Billion Dollars on Kinect Campaign” says one headline and Sony has already criticised this by saying it won’t spend anywhere as much on Move promotion. Marketing only makes the products more expensive (on average, about 25% of the cost of any product we buy is said to be for the marketing addressed at us). Anyway, the article says:

As was already revealed by Microsoft as part of its Kinect launch games announcement, the company has managed to secure important Kinect appearances on both Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres as it looks to reach out to a very wide, mainstream demographic (similar to the Wii). That’s just the beginning of the campaign, however, as the New York Post notes that Microsoft is spending around $500 million to ensure that Kinect hits the ground running.

Ballmer says that success requires a balancing act, but where is the balance in marketing budgets? “Ballmer tries to defend Microsoft from cynical students” says this headline which fits contextually:

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, tried to defend his company at a university lecture where it was heavily criticised for failing to succeed in a multitude of markets.

The chair of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, Ed Lazowska, slated Microsoft for its failure to deliver some of its technological developments, such as tablet computers, interactive TV, and digital music players in a viable way despite rivals like Apple using the same products to revitalise their businesses.

Truth be told, Microsoft takes debt and advertises like a maniac because nothing else has worked.

“OMGUbuntu Makes a Dig at Mono?”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Humour, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents, Ubuntu at 7:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amazed at Mono

Summary: An interpretation of one bit of apparent humour from the hugely popular OMGUbuntu Web site

OMGUbuntu often endorses Mono-based applications, but all in all, there’s nothing nefarious in the site, which does a great job promoting Ubuntu GNU/Linux and introducing new users to it

OMGUbuntu has just chosen the bait headline “Clementine music player goes mono…” and it doesn’t mean what it may sound like. “Clementine,” Joey says, “the Amarok 1.4 inspired music player – is going mono in its forthcoming release.” That’s not Novell’s Mono at all and the confusion appears to be deliberate. OpenBytes believes that “OMGUbuntu makes a dig at Mono”. To quote:

If you ever find yourself with views which don’t support a Mono advocate, my advice to you would be keep them to yourself, lest you get a vulgar tirade of the “c” word that I did by an advocate of theirs. Whilst a Mono supporter may try to woo you with statements like “haters like to hate” (in order to cheapen any opposition to it) or the best one “they’re killing FOSS!” it seems that the disapproval (or at least concerns about it) are much larger than any Mono supporter would want to acknowledge, afterall Jo Shields wrote a whole article trying to justify it.

Mono has already tainted OpenSUSE (including forbidden parts like Banshee) and although there is not much news from OpenSUSE anymore, there are some nice new stories of deployment in Indonesia for example:

Yogyakarta is one of the tourism destination in Indonesia. The unique Javanise tradition blend with some acculturation from outside culture. Recently I was asked by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and Office of Education, Youth and Sport of Yogyakarta to help them to prepare the computer lab for elementary and junior high school in Yogyakarta Province – Indonesia.

Well, this is the tough job. I work with some expert, teacher and education strategist to prepare the e-learning system. We should prepare learning/teaching material in digital format, train the teacher to use authoring tools and operating system, and prepare the schools to be ready to receive the PC’s. This government initiative will involve 500 schools in 3 years. Every school that involve in this program will receive 21 PCs.

It’s important not to make children dependent on applications which depend on Mono. Microsoft (aka SCO 2.0) is trying to exploit that.

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

BSA Lobbying Against Standards in Europe is Old News

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents, Standard at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BSA as BS

Summary: The Business Software Alliance (BSA) actually started fighting against open standards quite a while back; we look at more software patents news

THOSE who have followed Techrights for a while may already know, based on this Wiki page at least, that the BSA’s attacks on open standards in Europe are nothing new. We are surprised to see so many people around the Web referring to this new sort of leak (mentioned already in [1, 2, 3, 4]) as a real revelation given what we documented a couple of years ago. Robert Pogson chimes in:

The BSA is at it again. Now they are trying to make sure they can patent standards and still call them “open”. What part of “open” don’t they understand? They want standards containing patents to be recommended by the EU Commission in the Interoperability Framework.

Here is a letter they wrote advocating watering-down a proposal for the EIF. Here is the analysis by the FSFE. How is a standard “open” if someone has a monopoly on it? Isn’t the definition of patent a monopoly?

[...]

Patents on software or even modern technology (programmable/electronic) just makes no sense.

The BSA is a front group of those who pay its wages (think of RIAA/MPAA). It’s not surprising that it is pushing Microsoft’s agenda. But the BSA is a front group not just to Microsoft. Its members are Adobe, Altium, Apple, Autodesk, AVEVA, AVG, Bentley, CA, Cadence, Cisco, CNC Software – Mastercam, Corel, SolidWorks, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Kaspersky, McAfee, Microsoft, Mindjet, Minitab, Progress Software, PTC, Quark, Quest Software, Rockwell Automation, Rosetta Stone, Siemens, Stone Bond Technologies, Sybase, Symantec, Synopsys, and The MathWorks. Oracle and SAP are probably quite conspicuously missing because of the way they spread their software, but anyway, as this older article indicates, Oracle now contributes to patent FUD with or without the BSA. Lawyers are having a field day because of Oracle’s actions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]:

Making use of codes or software that are ratified by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) such as the GNU General Public License (GPL) will ensure peace of mind for developers and help prevent lawsuits from patent holders, industry watchers say.

Charles Lemaire, a veteran software patent attorney at Lemaire Patent Law Firm, said big IT vendors, particularly those that have obtained open source patent portfolios through acquisitions, are unlikely to initiate legal action against developers that have either made use of free software in the past or continue to develop software based on past open source codes.

Patent lawyers are like a horde of termites around good software. Here is another good new article which can serve as a reminder:

Palmer Patent Consultants perhaps needed a trademark consultant in connection with its attempt to register the mark INVENT! INVENT! INVENT! PATENT IT! for “intellectual property consultation” [PATENT disclaimed]. The Board affirmed a Section 2(d) refusal, finding the mark likely to cause confusion with the registered mark PATENT IT! for “legal services.” In re Palmer Patent Consultants, LLC, Serial No. 76673151 (October 7, 2010).

Any entity which is a patent maximalist is a threat to software freedom and to civil liberties. Techrights has always made patents the #1 issue, so the BSA is a subject we’ll explore a lot.

Attacks on Software Freedom Usually Mean That It is Winning

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

(Usually attributed to) Mahatma Gandhi

Summary: The Microsoft camp is throwing FUD at OpenOffice.org, GNU/Linux and Java this month, just when the company crumbles at an increased pace; Apple too starts getting increasingly worried

THAT quote at the top sure has become a cliché, but it is worth repeating just to remind people what recent events may mean. First of all, Microsoft’s #2 man has just quit. Yes, Ozzie was supposed to be Microsoft's next superstar, but he fell on his sword, leaving just Ballmer to handle the disasters which are Bong [sic], Vista Phone 7 [sic], and AZune [sic] (Fog Computing). Nothing new from Microsoft seems to be profitable.

Anybody knows that when a person or animal feels threatened and cornered, he or she attacks. That’s what appears to be happening at Microsoft right now. Earlier this month there were those tactless OpenOffice.org videos (Microsoft got blowback and retreated), a short while ago we saw GNU/Linux FUD from Windows Vista Magazine's editor (as well as others who echoed his talking points), and Microsoft was recently seen hiring a FOSS guy who attacks Java in his blog (just weeks after being hired). Groklaw has already rebutted this voice. And now, having exaggerated the impact of Oracle’s lawsuit, our reader Patrick says that Microsoft goes further. “I love how Microsoft attacks Java popularity, real classy,” he wrote last night.

There has been an “unprecedented wave” of exploits against vulnerabilities in Oracle’s Java during the third quarter of this year, according to data from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center.

Let’s see now; FUD attacks from the Microsoft movement against OpenOffice.org, GNU/Linux, and now Java? What’s next? This whole strategy is highly misguided because Microsoft alienates existing customers. Many Microsoft customers also use OpenOffice.org, GNU/Linux, and especially Java.

The blowback carries on. There is the propaganda video against OpenOffice.org with a whole show focused on it and this new article which references Techrights:

Meanwhile, the Ars Technica Web site did some digging and found the quotes were actually from case studies and press articles from the last four years, most of which were hosted on Microsoft.com.

Writing in his Web site Techrights, Roy Schestowitz notes that one case study involving the Scotland police force, was a “success” story about a migration in 2006 to Windows XP, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Windows Server 2003, products that are now ancient history. “Not really a good way to convince customers now,” he adds. But then again, the video doesn’t tell you this.

OStatic shrewdly refers to Bill Gates' and Steve Ballmer's attempt to extort the OpenOffice.org community using software patents:

If you’ve ever wondered whether Microsoft considers the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications to be competition, last week we took note of a new video from Microsoft showing customers criticizing the suite. It’s not the first time the company has targeted the open source suite. In this post from Sun Microsystems’ ex-CEO Jonathan Schwartz, he recounts the story of a visit with Microsoft’s then-CEO Bill Gates, where Gates displayed highly territorial behavior toward the OpenOffice suite. So does OpenOffice really represent a threat to Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite?

[...]

It may be a good thing to see Microsoft trash OpenOffice, but the day still isn’t here when a free, open source suite of productivity apps might acually topple Microsoft Office. For now, we should be thankful that there is at least competition.

The author links to this good post from Dana, whom we referenced yesterday. Dana says Microsoft’s attacks are good news; it’s basically the idea that if “then they attack you” it means that soon “you win”. Remember this: the worst thing is to be ignored. It’s even more insulting and degrading sometimes.

Eleven is Louder has meanwhile responded to the FUD piece from Windows Vista Magazine’s editor:

All in all, the article was bogus. People need to be weary of FUD like that. Too many credible news agencies are starting to churn out drivel like this PCW article.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has to be polite because he too works for IDG, but he calmly responds and concludes:

In the new desktop, where applications and content are more often than not provided by Linux-based servers, Linux will do quite well whether your main interface will be on a laptop, desktop, smartphone, or a tablet. It’s Windows, not Linux, that has reason to fear this future.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who used to write negative things about desktop Linux (several GNU/Linux FUD pieces almost identical to the above from a Windows Vista Magazine editor), no longer seems to agree with all that FUD he used to spread himself:

Secondly, Linux isn’t as bad at media as Strohmeyer makes out. Playing DVDs on distros such as Ubuntu is a snap. Sure, there’s plenty of DRMed media that won’t work on Linux, but there’s also plenty of stuff that will.

In conclusion, the Microsoft movement is running out of material and its talking points have expired. Well, all that a company can do is attack the competition like Android was attacked by ACCESS trolling or lawsuits from Apple and Microsoft.

Speaking of Apple, Android is now being attacked directly by Jobs and a transcript gets served by Charles Arthur, courtesy of Seeking Alpha. Yes, Apple too is scared as it sees the writings on the wall. Fabian A. Scherschel says: “Awesome. Steve Jobs: The worldwide authority on openness. What a joke….”

Glyn Moody responds by saying, “first MS fretting about OpenOffice, now Jobs on Android…”

Yes, software freedom is winning. Just don’t expect the losers to accept it lying down.

Links 19/10/2010: Linux Mint 10 RC, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Benchmarks

Posted in News Roundup at 2:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 10 Reasons for Switching to Linux

    Linux has always been the geek’s favorite operating system. However, times are changing and Linux is now being promoted to suit the everyday user. Linux has its own share of pros and cons but the tide seems to be turning in its favor, as hardware vendors are starting to ship their systems with Linux pre-installed (a tactic to save OS costs). Curiosity about Linux is on the rise among computer users and the debate is on whether or not to make the switch to Linux.

  • Desktop

    • Ditch That Other OS

      The result is you will have a leaner OS that runs better on any hardware and you will not have to fight the malware constantly. As long as that other OS is such a soft target, the malware artists will keep writing for it giving you a 1000:1 advantage that way alone. Then most malware for GNU/Linux does not spread like wildfire. Even if it should get in it is very unlikely to do much damage. The few reported cases are mostly folks leaving the doors open with a weak password on a server. If you put up a firewall you are not likely to have any problem at all.

    • Surviving Change

      While interesting that this three-ring circus is survivable, it does show that GNU/Linux is at least as capable of being a solid platform as the others. Freedom from malware and cost with flexibility decide the matter for me.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • “LXDE” is a really svelt and fast Linux GUI

        I’m not claiming it’s the smallest (it’s not) or even the fastest or the best, but it is pretty good for my needs, on my 12 year old celeron computer in my back porch farm office/dog room/Ham radio shack. It only has 576 megs of ram. The computer is too old to spend money on buying more memory, so I wanted an operating system that would use a minimum of system resources. I chose PCLOS Linux, using the LXDE gui (graphical user interface), and it’s made a big difference…

    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Benchmarks With Its New Kernel

        As was reported recently, the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port now has limited support for handling ZFS file-systems and its stock kernel has been upgraded against that of FreeBSD 8.1. Due to the upgraded kernel we ran a quick set of benchmarks to see how the performance of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD to that of Debian Linux.

        [...]

        While Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is now running with the FreeBSD 8.1 kernel, in many tests Debian GNU/Linux continues to be a much faster operating system.

      • Debian Project News – October 18th, 2010

        Welcome to this year’s fourteenth issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community. Topics covered in this issue include:

        * State of Debian 6.0 “Squeeze”
        * New question and answer service at ask.debian.net
        * Updated DebianEdu released
        * New “sloppy” backports suite for stable Debian “Lenny”
        * General resolution about Debian project membership
        * Hybrid Installer Image for optical and USB devices
        * About the non-news of package removals in Debian’s testing branch
        * Following Debian Mailing lists via micro-blogging services
        * “Four days” promise for Debian Mentees
        * Who’s using Debian?
        * Why do people contribute to Debian?
        * Further “This week in Debian” interviews
        * … and much more.

      • Mint

        • Review: Linux Mint Debian

          As those screenshots show, once inside a desktop session, things are pretty much as one would expect in a standard Linux Mint session. Of course, some may favor Linux Mint Debian because of its rolling release nature and perhaps because its lack of upstream issues (the infamous Ubuntu video issues in the last few releases should not apply here). On the other hand, those who favor a very polished and user friendly interface, a more aggressive approach in incorporating current software and don’t want to miss on applications developed for Ubuntu exclusively, should probably stick with standard Linux Mint.

          Personally, I believe this is a nice departure from the original Linux Mint approach, a step that provides a wider catalog for Linux Mint users and yet another move towards making the Mint project less Ubuntu dependent. Would I use it? Well, not really, but that’s just because it does not really fit my needs.

        • Linux Mint 9 review

          Finally, this version of Linux Mint 9 comes with three years of support. Now, we’re more than capable of supporting ourselves on Linux, but this will make Linux Mint 9 more interesting to new users or original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) considering offering a desktop Linux already installed on their PCs.

        • Release: Linux Mint 10 RC

          The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 10 RC.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 10.10 reviewed in brief

          Overall, Ubuntu delivers what it is supposed to do. At the bare minimum, Ubuntu is an operating system that provides the basics for any user. This can be expanded upon to suit each user’s needs. Ubuntu allows for this at zero cost to the user. With the philosophy in mind, Ubuntu will continue to provide for the users that they entertain to. Maverick Meerkat does not fall short of this expectation and will always be available to anyone. With its out of the box nature, anyone is able to jump right into the system and try it for themselves.

        • Ubuntu 11.04 development begins

          Less than one week after the arrival of Ubuntu 10.10, developer Matthias Klose has announced that version 11.04, code named “Natty Narwhal”, is now officially open for development. Discussing the future Ubuntu 11.04 release, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has said that it will be “sleeker and more stylish” and that there was a lot of work going on with ARM chips and Ubuntu to “help keep the planet cool”.

        • Ubuntu 10.10 on the Lenovo Thinkpad T410s

          So far I’m loving this little machine (and the nice touches in Ubuntu 10.10 as well). It’s just the right size, weight, and performs amazingly well.

        • Ubuntu, deKaffeinated
        • Ubuntu 10.10 – the release cycle in review…

          Ubuntu 10.10 developer and Community Leader Dave Walker reflects on Maverick Meerkat’s release cycle. Celebrating with a 10/10/10 release date meant a compressed development period. Many said it couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be done. They were wrong…

        • Flavours and Variants

          • First look at Kubuntu 10.10

            In conclusion, Kubuntu 10.10 might not bowl you over, but it seems to function fairly well if you’re a bit forgiving. I would have liked to have seen a prettier desktop and I’d really like someone to look into the NVIDIA and Akregator issues, but overall it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. This is the first time I’ve used Kubuntu for any real length of time, and at the end of my excursion, I am moving on (but I’m taking that font with me). Kubuntu won’t be leaving my desktop with a lot of bad memories, it just didn’t win me over. Like I said before, it wasn’t the best desktop I’ve ever used, nor was it the worst. It’s just stuck right there in the middle of the road. And sometimes, that’s good enough.

          • One week, three distributions (Day 2: Kubuntu)

            As noted in my previous post I have decided to try out a mini experiment wherein I test out three recently released distributions (Kubuntu 10.10, Ubuntu 10.10 and Linux Mint Debian Edition) giving each 48 hours to leave me with either a brilliant or terrible first impression. First on the docket was Kubuntu 10.10.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tablets

      • Charge of the Bloat Brigade

        “7″ will demand higher licensing fees and not ARM. The competition, using ARM + Android will take over just as they have in smart-phones. The “partners” had better find a new partner, Google. Then they will be able to compete with the real world and not Apple. Even Apple uses ARM and so will have weight/power advantages so “7″ on tablets will go down the drain and squander huge resources in the process. If the OEMs put “7″ on tablets and retailers stock shelves with them, this will be another “Vista” moment, a moment of clarity when the world sees the emperor has no clothes.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 55 Open Source Replacements for Popular Networking Tools

    Setting up and maintaining networks used to be something that only “super-geeks” did. Network engineers and administrators at large enterprises usually have a lot of in-depth technical knowledge about how systems work and how they communicate with each other.

    But these days, lots of people have small networks at their homes and small businesses. They usually don’t have the same sort of specialized knowledge, but they still need to be able to set up and troubleshoot the inevitable problems.

    Fortunately, developers have created plenty of open source tools to help both groups accomplish what they need to get done. Open source tools can help you design, test, deploy, manage, monitor, or secure your network, and some can even help you build your own appliances, routers, or other hardware.

  • Databases

    • SkySQL will try to drive MySQL fork, Oracle’s ouster

      The community simply doesn’t trust that Oracle will be a good steward of open source software and is acting quickly to preserve top open source projects.

      SkySQL, which will provide alternative services and support for the MySQL database, is playing it safe for now. It is not helping found a new open source foundation to sponsor an official MySQL fork, and is not declaring open war on Oracle.

  • Oracle

    • New Chart features in OpenOffice.org 3.3 Beta (part 3)

      And here are some more Chart features in OOo 3.3 Beta:

      Several defaults were changed to allow a faster creation of a pleasant looking and readable chart.
      So the diagram size is now larger with 9x16cm wide screen. That allows also for larger fonts at the axes, data labels and legend entries. We have 10pt here now. The somewhat outdated comic style with black borders around all the data points and symbols was left behind in favor of a modern clean look without borders.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

Leftovers

  • The Future of Personal Computing

    With that, everything else is the network. We need more bandwidth, for video, audio, graphics and software. There are servers all over the world nearly maxed-out in connection delivering software and updates. If GNU/Linux is to “succeed” and assume a full share of IT, this is the next bottleneck right after a breakthrough in retail. Here, GNU/Linux is limited mostly by folks using dial-up. I can update their machines at 10 MB/s anywhere in the building but in their homes they are three orders of magnitude slower, unacceptable. I last used dial-up with GNU/Linux around 2002. It is just not acceptable any longer.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Real Life ‘Pre-Crime’ Technology

      We live in an age of wonders. We can talk and see our friends in the world over the Internet. We live in an age of horrors. Third-world dictatorships are working on atomic bombs. And, we live in age where new miracles and terrors are only a research project away.

Clip of the Day

Kdenlive Vs OpenShot


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